When you exercise with friends, you can hold yourselves accountable, get healthy, and strengthen your bond as you strengthen your biceps. And, says Joey Gonzalez, CEO of Barry’s Bootcamp and all-around badass trainer, *anyone* can build his or her own workout crew. Here, the Well+Good Council member shares his advice on how you can make new friends, get your existing ones involved, and create the #fitfam you deserve.
At Barry’s, I witness the power of community every day. It develops naturally during classes, of course, but also when people plan for it. They come together to celebrate birthdays. For bridal showers. To bond with co-workers after work instead of heading to a bar. For some of our longtime Los Angeles clients, meeting at Barry’s is a tradition they’ve held for two decades—they don’t see each other all week, but every Saturday morning at 10, they take a class together.
Clearly, combining friendship with exercise can make both experiences even better. People love to work out with each other because when something’s difficult and requires discipline, you just naturally bond with one another. No matter which physical activity you engage in, it’s going to leave you healthier, happier, and in a better head space then where you were before it. And what’s better than sharing that experience and that mindset with people?
Here’s how you can strengthen your fitness community, whether you already have a crew or you’re just getting started.
Set your goals—together
The easiest way to bond is to identify a shared, common goal. That could be as simple as saying, “Hey, we both could get a little stronger.” Or maybe it’s a friendly competition—you could commit to taking a certain number of classes and seeing who did better at the end of them.
Sweat first, then chill
If you want to get a friend to join you for a workout, add another fun activity. You could say, “Let’s go sweat for an hour, and afterward, we can go to brunch.” That can make someone feel more comfortable if they’re not already immersed in the fitness world, and with any luck, it can turn into a regular thing.
If you’re really desperate to get friends to join you for workouts, there’s always bribery. I kid—but not really. Give someone a five-pack of classes as a gift, treat her to a cute pair of leggings, or offer to pick up the tab for post-sweat smoothies. Paying for your friends to come along is an investment that pays off, because ultimately you’re trying to get accountability and fun.
Don’t let shyness keep you from saying hello. At Barry’s, I hear clients approach each other saying things like, “Thank you for your energy. You really inspired me. I wasn’t going to hit that sprint, but you were there doing it and I couldn’t refuse.” Hey, you never know—tell someone how they’ve affected you, and you might just meet your future best friend.
As a trainer turned CEO of Barry’s Bootcamp, Joey Gonzalez has a holistic view on wellness that includes family, mental health, and, of course, fitness. Since he took the top job in 2015, he’s grown the popular fitness empire to 41 studios—11 of them international.
What should Joey write about next? Send your questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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